Authentic Italian pasta sauce

This is my great aunt’s recipe and was sent to me by my cousin who put it together from a couple of pieces of paper my aunt had written on. He said, “As you can see, trying to replicate and/or translate an Italian nonna’s recipe is a very fluid adventure. It never turns out the same!”

Aunt Carolyn’s SPAGHETTI Sauce 

Generous handful of dried porcini mushrooms

2 large yellow onions, chopped

3–4 large carrots, chopped

3–4 celery stalks (equal to carrots), chopped 

1 cup chopped Italian parsley 

4–5 fresh rosemary twigs (6-inch), leaves chopped

12 fresh sage leaves, chopped

Several garlic cloves, chopped

28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes

16-ounce can tomato puree

38-ounce can tomato sauce

2 cups water or broth

2 pounds ground chuck

1 pound ground Italian sausage

¼ pound pancetta, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place mushrooms in small pot and cover with about an inch of water. Bring to a boil then cover. Set aside while you make the sauce.

Warm some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onions, celery, and carrots, and cook until soft, being careful not to burn. Add herbs and garlic and continue to cook a short while longer. Set aside.

Break up the plum tomatoes either with your hand or pulsate for a few seconds in a blender. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato sauce, and water or broth to the onion-vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few hours.

Combine all the meats in a large frying pan, add salt and pepper, and brown over medium heat until well browned (very important), about 15–20 minutes. Note: There will be a lot of fat from the meat while it is cooking but it will eventually cook down later. When the meat is cooked, add to the tomato mixture.

Drain the mushrooms, retaining the soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms and add to the tomato and meat mixture. Slowly add the soaking liquid to the mixture, making sure any dirt remains behind. Add salt and pepper to taste; simmer all ingredients slowly for at least 2 hours — longer is better. Remove any fat that remains on top and serve over your favorite pasta.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

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